Salton Sea

Hey lets go to the beach! We loaded the Mini with a picnic and headed for the coast, 226 feet below sea level. There was a lot of rain the last few days so the sky was exceptionally clear and there was fresh snow on the San Jacinto Mountains in the distance. Our first view of the Salton Sea included a large flock of majestic white pelicans – much bigger than the sea gulls. We learned there is a type of sea gull with a web foot that only lives at the Salton Sea.

10-12-24 Salton Sea

The North Shore Beach and Yacht Club was designed by Albert Frey and was recently renovated. It was really a brilliant nautical design and a pleasure to experience. You could image Lucy and Desi hanging around with their pals Sinatra and Dean, with the harbor full of yachts, bustling with activity. There are plans afloat to bring back some boat races. My Dad said he swam here (with my Mom as his  young bride) in the 50’s when he was on a day leave from the Marines (before the yacht club was built)! I am not sure I am brave enough to swim in it today – it is quite a bit saltier (25% saltier than the Pacific Ocean).

10-12-24 Salton Sea North Shore Yacht Club

We headed as far south as the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge to enjoy our picnic lunch on top of Rock Hill. We watched a large flock of snow geese covering an entire field. We observed quite a few grebes, black bellied plovers, black-necked stilts, great blue herons, and American Bitterns as well as more sea gulls. We drove back to the condo the same direction, enjoying the early winter twilight – it was a 180 mile day trip so one we will probably not make again.

Santa Rosa National Monument

Coachella Valley From Art Smith Trail

Henry stitched together this photo of the Coachella Valley from our favorite “lunch rock”. It is a steep one and a half mile hike on the Art Smith Trail but great views as well as nice rocks and cactus. We have seen lots of hummingbirds.

11-01-02 Art Smith Trail

The trail also allows views of some of the great homes in the BigHorn development and golf course. Notice how green the valley is from all the irrigation. Normally this part of the Sonoran Desert only gets about 8″ of rain – much less than Denver’s average of 14″. So I am getting new ideas for xeric landscaping from our hikes.  There are 5 groves of palms on this hike – not on the San Andreas fault but another fault: Technically we are on the Pacific Plate not the North American Plate.

10-12-25 Carrizo Canyon

On Christmas morning we took this scenic hike looking for the Big Horn Sheep but didn’t have the pleasure to see them. This trail is only open October through December: the rest of the year the sheep are breeding and raising their young. We explored both the Carrizo Canyon and the Indian Canyon – beautiful hikes.

10-12-31 Steel Cactus

The ultimate water free cactus: Totally Xeric 😉

Hiking to an Oasis in the Desert

Tuesday, 7 December 2010 we headed to Coachella Valley Preserve, just north of Palm Desert. We went to the nice Visitor Center which is in an oasis of California Palms – there is such a thing as a real live oasis. We decided to take a six mile hike to the Pushwalla Palms – they really do surprise you as you come around a switchback and there they are.

The palms grow out of the water that seeps through the San Andreas Fault, giving enough moisture to create this riparian oasis. So we walked down into the valley. We surprised a bunch of quails that sounded like a motor boat taking off with the beating of their wings. Here Henry posed to give a sense of scale to these native palm trees.

Wednesday 15 December we drove to the south entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. We chose a 9 mile hike to Lost Palms Oasis with a detour to Mastodon Peak to see a view of the Salton Sea. We had the pleasure of hearing a history presentation the night before at the library of the Salton Sea so it gave us some ideas to ponder while we walked.

Quite an interesting variety of plants – yuccas, agaves, California firs, a desert holly, some sage – I am still working on my identification as many of these plants will not survive in Denver. But it is fun to see them in their native setting with some unique cloud formations.

We found the Lost Palms 😉 It was worth taking a break and enjoying the view.

The rocks/boulders are not as large here as they are further north in the park – but beautiful and sculptural. The southern part of the park is in the Sonoran Desert and this particular area is a sub section called the Colorado Desert. The northern part of the park is the Mojave Desert which is higher in elevation and also where the Joshua Trees grow. That is for another day of exploration.

Palm Springs Architecture and Events

Thursday evening 9 December 2010 we went on a walking Tour of the Inns in downtown Palm Springs. What a great event! Fifteen hotels opened their doors and rooms with treats to consume around the pools – several had live music. It really was a feast for all the was a balmy 65 degrees – cool enough to enjoy some warm mulled cider but warm enough to linger. The architecture we enjoyed the most was designed by William Cody in the 1940’s, where we had stayed 7 years ago when we were touristing, and the most photographed pool at

Seeing these hotels made us inspired to find some of the homes we had seen in Jules Schulman’s Visual Acoustics documentary…we found a map with some of the stars homes indicated and from driving around were able to locate the Kaufman House in all its refurbished glory. (photo taken Sunday 12 December) Excitement!

And if we were brave enough (or invited) to walk up to the front door this would be our experience.

We also went to the Palm Springs Art Museum and surprise! they had SEVEN Henry Moore sculptures on display. Very exciting for me after giving twenty seven tours this year of the eighteen sculptures at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

We are enjoying the one bedroom condo in Palm Desert with its view of palm trees and the Santa Rosa mountains in the distance. This view, the pool, hot tub, along with some red wine make it our own little paradise.

Death Valley Experience


Saturday, 4 December 2010 we visited Death Valley National Park – Henry’s last National Park in the continental USA west of the Mighty Mississippi. We camped at Texas Springs and saw a star gazing program with the ranger at Zabriskie Point. Here is a picture during the day

Later in the day we hiked Golden Canyon and came upon this bit of wildlife. The ranger told us it was a male Tarantula as the females are even a bit larger, since this one was as large as Henry’s hand.

As we were waiting for a ranger led walk through the dunes, we read about the park in the newsletter…noticing the picture was taken where we were sitting. It was a good nature walk as we learned about the creosote bushes and how the kangaroo rats lived in the roots – we saw some tracks but only saw a stink bug.

We stayed and watched the sunset before camping a second night at Emigrant Pass. More star gazing tonight as it looks very clear.

Henry Moore sculptures at Denver Botanic Gardens

The Henry Moore sculptures at Denver Botanic Gardens have been a joy. Photographing them with different moods under various lighting, plant colors and weather conditions. So I was armed with the camera to see if we could capture some fall color and look what stole the show: the elusive foxy lady was out for a Sunday stroll.

Large Reclining Figure is a white fiberglass – which is how they were able to locate it on top of this hill in the center of the garden. But look at how the primary colors of yellow and blue pop with their combination makes an awesome hunter green.

One of my favorites in the Goslar Warrior – could it be more perfectly sited to by the fallen soldier reflected in the pond? This is named after a town in Saxony Germany and they named Henry Moore the first recipient of the Kaissering Award in 1974 – a prestigeous modern art award that continues to this day.

The reflections of Hill Arch add to the depth and mystery of this piece. The installation is such that the concrete platform it sits on is just below the water level. this is the only bronze sculpture that is allowed to continue to patina naturally – all the others are fixed with a wax to keep the finish from changing.

This Reclining Figure Angles is perhaps inspired by the Mayan Chacmool – the Rain Spirit at Chichen Itza which was discoverd in 1875. Even though this bronze dates to 1979, the style is similar to ones he was carving in the 1920.

These wonderful sculptures are on display until 31 January 2011 – and then they get trucked across country to be shipped back to England. Hope you get to enjoy them and take some of your own photos.